We've Got Lillies For The Fillies

Sure, the Kentucky Derby has the Mint Julep but the Kentucky Oaks has its own cocktail and it’s called the Oaks Lilly – and we have the recipe.

By: Tiff Christie|May 1,2019

Who doesn’t love a Mint Julep, right? It’s a drink that has been synonymous with Kentucky horse racing for nearly a hundred years. But it’s not the only cocktail to be seen at the track this weekend. We bet you didn’t know that the Kentucky Oaks, which is held the day before the Derby, has had its own cocktail since 2006. We’d like to introduce you to the Oaks Lily. 

While the Derby allows for any eligible colt, gelding or filly to participate, the Oaks is exclusively for three-year-old fillies. So, therefore, the spirit of the day is light-hearted, young and fun. The Oaks Lily Cocktail was not only created to reflect that but also be a truly tasty libation, whether you are at the track or not. 

Brown-Forman Chief Entertaining Officer, Tim Laird, is believed to have created the drink and said it is based on a cosmopolitan, with a hot pink colour that mimics the Stargazer Lilies draped over the winning filly’s shoulders.

“It’s one of those cocktails that appeals to everybody,” Laird said. “The mint julep is a drink that you really have to love if you’re going to have two or three. But this is such a refreshing drink, especially on a hot day.”

Modelled after the British horse race, the Epsom, The Kentucky Oaks is held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. Both races, founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. in 1875, are the oldest running sporting events in history. In addition, they are the only horse races to be held at their original site since it began.

Traditionally, the winning Kentucky Oaks filly has been presented with a floral garland since 1916. Back then it was made of roses but it is now crafted of lilies. Yep, you guessed it, that would make them “Lilies for the Fillies.”

Now in case, you’re interested, and for the sake of a little trivia, there are in fact 133 lilies that adorn the winner’s garland. The flowers are sewn into a white fabric backing with a fleur-de-lis pattern, then trimmed with a border of oak ivy leaves. Like the Derby’s garland of roses, the lily garland also is embroidered with Churchill’s Twin Spires, the seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the number of the race’s renewal.

Well, enough of that … back to the drinking …

Oaks Lily Recipe 


1 oz – Vodka

1⁄2 oz – Fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 oz – Simple syrup

3 oz – Cranberry juice

1 splash – Orange liqueur


1 Fresh blackberry

1 slice Lemon


Fill a glass with ice, then add all ingredients and stir slowly. Garnish with a fresh blackberry and a slice of lemon.

What better way to celebrate the fillies then with their own race, their own garland of lilies and of course, their own drink.

If Bourbon is more you bent and you feel you rather ‘run for the roses’, we’ve included A Beginner’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby (  …so don’t say we don’t prepare you for every 0ccation …

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